Almost a third of parents would actively discourage their children from join the army, according to a new poll.
The news will come as a blow to both the government and the army, following the UK's first Armed Forces Day and the investment of millions of pounds in an attempt to boost the image of the armed forces and gain more recruits .
The new survey by the National Army Museum found that more than half those polled also disagreed with the army’s deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Just 64 per cent of parents said they would support their child if they wished to sign up, compared to just under a third (32 per cent) who said they would discourage them.
Only slightly more than a quarter (26 per cent) of men said they would discourage their child, compared to 36 per cent of women.
Six out of 10 people (60 per cent) said they disagreed with British troops being sent into Iraq, compared with a fifth (20 per cent) who supported the policy. More than half (53 per cent) said soldiers should not have been sent into Afghanistan, compared to a quarter (25 per cent) who agreed with the deployment.
The remainder of the 2,000-plus people questioned were either neutral, undecided or chose not to respond.
Conflicts on British territory received greater support with more than half agreeing with the deployment of British troops to The Falklands (53 per cent) and to Northern Ireland (56 per cent).
The survey coincides with the opening of a major new exhibition, Conflicts of Interest, at the museum in Chelsea, London, on September 12. The exhibition looks at the British Army's role since 1969.
A report by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust last year found that the army is targeting children as young as seven, and that £2 billion is spent annually on training, most of which is used to train new recruits who replace those who leave each year.
Almost half of all solders found army life to be worse than they expected and the report found that the army was largely failing to inform recruits about the risks of an army career.